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Combined Heat and Power Partnership

Basic Information

CHP Technology Resources
  • CHP Catalog of Technologies is a comprehensive guide to CHP technology. It includes descriptions of how the technology functions as well as cost and performance characteristics.
  • Waste Heat to Power Systems provides a comprehensive overview of WHP and a characterization of the WHP market.
  • Biomass CHP Catalog of Technologies provides a detailed technology characterization of biomass CHP systems. It includes technical and economic information about biomass resources, biomass preparation, energy conversion technologies, power production systems, and complete integrated systems.

Combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, is the simultaneous production of electricity and heat from a single fuel source, such as: natural gas, biomass, biogas, coal, waste heat, or oil.

CHP is not a single technology, but an integrated energy system that can be modified depending upon the needs of the energy end user.

CHP provides:

  • Onsite generation of electrical and/or mechanical power.
  • Waste-heat recovery for heating, cooling, dehumidification, or process applications.
  • Seamless system integration for a variety of technologies, thermal applications, and fuel types into existing building infrastructure.

The two most common CHP system configurations are:

  • Gas turbine or engine with heat recovery unit
  • Steam boiler with steam turbine

Gas Turbine or Engine With Heat Recovery Unit

This graphic shows a gas turbine- or internal combustion engine-based CHP system. Fuel is combusted to generate electricity for onsite use or to be exported to the power grid. Simultaneously, heat is recovered using a heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) that produces steam or hot water for process applications or space heating.

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Gas turbine or reciprocating engine CHP systems generate electricity by burning fuel (natural gas or biogas) to generate electricity and then use a heat recovery unit to capture heat from the combustion system's exhaust stream. This heat is converted into useful thermal energy, usually in the form of steam or hot water. Gas turbines/engines are ideally suited for large industrial or commercial CHP applications requiring ample amounts of electricity and heat.

Steam Boiler With Steam Turbine

This graphic shows a steam boiler- or steam turbine-based CHP system. Fuel is first combusted to heat water in a boiler to produce high-pressure steam, which is then sent to a steam turbine to power a generator, producing electricity. The electricity may be used onsite or exported to the grid and the waste steam can be used for process applications.

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Steam turbines normally generate electricity as a byproduct of heat (steam) generation, unlike gas turbine and reciprocating engine CHP systems, where heat is a byproduct of power generation. Steam turbine-based CHP systems are typically used in industrial processes, where solid fuels (biomass or coal) or waste products are readily available to fuel the boiler unit.

View a comprehensive list of CHP technologies in the Catalog of CHP Technologies.

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CHP Applications

CHP technology exists in a wide variety of energy-intensive facility types and sizes nationwide, including:

  • Industrial manufacturers - chemical, refining, ethanol, pulp and paper, food processing, glass manufacturing
  • Institutions - colleges and universities, hospitals, prisons, military bases
  • Commercial buildings - hotels and casinos, airports, high-tech campuses, large office buildings, nursing homes
  • Municipal - district energy systems, wastewater treatment facilities, K-12 schools
  • Residential - multi-family housing, planned communities

A number of site-specific factors will determine if CHP may be a good technical and economic fit for your facility. Answer a few simple questions to determine if your facility is a good candidate for CHP.

Benefits of CHP

CHP plays an important role in meeting the United States' energy needs as well as in reducing the environmental impact of power generation, including:

Efficiency Benefits
CHP requires less fuel to produce a given energy output, and avoids transmission and distribution losses that occur when electricity travels over power lines.

Reliability Benefits
CHP can be designed to provide high-quality electricity and thermal energy to a site regardless of what might occur on the power grid, decreasing the impact of outages and improving power quality for sensitive equipment.

Environmental Benefits
Because less fuel is burned to produce each unit of energy output, CHP reduces air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Economic Benefits
CHP can save facilities considerable money on their energy bills due to its high efficiency and can provide a hedge against unstable energy costs.

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